Back to School….

I recently spent time with a friend who is ‘full on for God’!!

She had exciting stories to tell of traveling to far off lands to share the gospel, and all the wonderful ways God used her…….

I found myself thinking, wow, so have I been sidelined or what?! Where am I in the scheme of God’s great plan for mankind?

I have pondered this over the last few days, and I think it is important to seek the Lord for an answer to this question.

Life is made up of seasons and it’s really not so important what that season looks like, but what work we allow the Holy Spirit to do in us during that time that is so valuable to God.

If my attention is given to the ‘what’ then I don’t catch the ‘why’.

For me, being sidelined from the norms of life is ok if that is what the Lord needs to do, but we are never sidelined from God’s plan and purpose.

That is forever his commitment, to work to conform us to the image of His Son.

Where am I? I am in the school of the Spirit, back in the classroom for undivided attention to be given to the Teacher and the lessons He needs to teach me. I think I know what the subjects are, He makes things clear deep down I understand what changes he wants to work.

To know the season allows us, indeed compels us, to determine priorities, and to ‘eliminate and concentrate’.

I well remember my high school years and the hours I wasted in peripheral activities, and how I now wish I had been a more diligent student to gain the greater prize.

May we be those who embrace the season, not always because it is easy, but because we recognize the hand of a loving Father who is at work.

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Sovereign

This morning I have so enjoyed this Michael W Smith song.

The fresh reminder that when we look to Him and not our challenges ( for we can only look at one thing at a time!), we see again His loving power, which is always intentional for His purposes.
There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust

Let each line minister fresh life and hope today.

Colossians 4:5-6

This morning I am deeply challenged by this instruction from Paul,

‘Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders, make the most of every opportunity.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…..’

May we be those who leave the scent of the Savior in our ‘ordinary’ interactions with those who do not yet know His loveliness.

While it is Yet Day…

Things have become very quiet around our home.. Doug’s ability to express thought, or opinion or even gratitude has been reduced to just an occasional word.

What do I miss? I miss fellowship, I miss laughter, I miss relaxed chat, sharing ideas, sometimes I would even settle for ‘ heated debate’!

But most of all I miss companionship .

That intimacy that sets us apart, that shares Christ, that cares for the things the heart of God cares for.

I wonder if that’s how it is sometimes between us and  God.

I wonder if He wishes we would use words more often, words of praise and gratitude, words that express wonder at His greatness and words that honor Him above all else.

We may have been very verbal in the past, enjoying fellowship and the talking / listening,  but perhaps we have become ‘busy’ or just take for granted that He is there, and have forgotten how much God longs for our attention.

Perhaps we have forgotten to express appreciation and gratitude with simple words that just say, ‘I know you are there, I like you, it’s good we are together….’

Perhaps God misses us in our organised scheduling of life.

May we be people who remember to ‘companion’ with the One who made us for that purpose and paid the greatest price for it to happen.

I will fear no evil……

“… Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

I memorized this Psalm as a child, but today as I meditate on it, I see perhaps a new reality that as the Shepherd walks with me through my daily circumstances His plan is indeed to put to death my old nature!

It is my personal death to everything that does not reflect his character !

Yet I will fear no evil!!

He will never allow the death experience to destroy me!

What a paradox!

To die is to yield, to allow the gracious work of the Holy Spirit to do his work through the valley sojourn.

Elizabeth Elliot once said, “Where He leads me I will follow, and what He feeds me I will swallow!”

It is for God to orchestrate the valley experiences, it is for us to obediently follow, learning to yield, – to put to death   old prejudices, biased concepts, stubborn self righteousness, and those thoughts and attitudes known only to Him.

He invites us to ‘come and die, that we might truly live’.

The sheep knew the voice and leading of the shepherd, so also may we learn to listen and obey through our valleys to the Shepherd of our soul.

I have loved following Anne Graham Lotz on Instagram, because I constantly sense her perspective is firmly set on heaven, and not the breast cancer she battles.

The older I get the more sure I am that from an eternal perspective our circumstances are not the point, and that’s the point!

It is always about Jesus, our circumstances both easy and difficult are always about learning to lay hold more tightly on Jesus.

This perspective brings purpose and hope, the essentials for enduring. (Romans 5:1-5…)

‘let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him he endured the cross.’ Hebrews 12:2

May we not develop tunnel vision and think today is about what we need to accomplish/endure/…… but let it have eternal benefit to grow faith that he is indeed working in us,

That’s the point ..

David encouraged himself in the Lord…..

Few people go through life without encountering painful and challenging circumstances, and at these times we know that faithful friends will gather around us and minister hope and comfort.

And yet there are countless times when we experience less obvious disappointments or discouragement, those ‘little foxes that spoil the vine’.

It is at these times we need to train ourselves to ‘encourage ( strengthen) ourselves in the Lord’.

There are many opportunities to be critical of ourselves, we all know our own hearts, but so does Jesus, yet his gracious love sees beyond our failings to our need for a yet deeper work of the Spirit to be done in us.

Jesus leads our cheer team, he is for us even when we are not!

So what do we do with our negative thoughts and self recriminations?

We hold on to the truth that God loves, ‘in spite of’ and not ‘because of ‘ anything that we are or have done.

He loves because HE IS LOVE!

In Philippians, Paul says ‘Whatsoever things are true ( Gods opinion not ours), noble, right, pure…think on these things!

No toxic thinking allowed!!

David knew he had messed up, but he ministered grace to his brokenness and tended to his wounded soul… and God was there in that truth.

May we be people who quickly run to Jesus and in that safe place, encourage ourselves back to health.